“Do I go hungry, do my kids go hungry or do we keep the house warm?”


It’s not a quandry one would ever expect, or hope, to hear in the UK in 2021. And yet this is the question posed by father of two Anthony Lyman earlier this month, as he addressed Westminster’s Work and Pensions Committee. The subject under debate? The government’s plan to remove a £20 per week Universal Credit uplift that has proved a lifeline to millions of families like his since the start of the pandemic.


Lyman says he already faced a “knife edge” before the £20 a week increase was introduced, forced to decide between food or fuel, and reliant on food banks after his Universal Credit payments left him unable to afford his children’s school uniforms.


“The uplift sent some relief. And for that to be removed is going to leave us with that big question again,” he sighs. It will also, he warns, leave people vulnerable to mental health crisis.


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